Our generation has been relatively fortunate. Allow me a little generalisation here when I say that our parents’ generation being relatively more educated than theirs, they understood education’s importance. Not only did they see to it that we were invested in our education, they also gave us the freedom to carve out a career for ourselves as we saw best. They have tried their best to not allow sentimentality come in the way of practicality even if it meant letting them venture afar in pursuit of better opportunities.

We grew up seeing our parents taking care of our grandparents but now as our parents are getting older, most of us, despite our best intentions, may not be able to reciprocate. They were there for their parents, we may not be. Our reasons could be any and justified but it still feels like we are leaving our older generation in the lurch to fend for themselves.

As they tackle with their loneliness and deal with their empty nests, I wonder what would come of us when our time comes. With most of us being the rolling stones that we are, we may not even have the comfort of community that our parents enjoy, having lived in the same neighbourhood for years. The world may be shrinking bit we are moving farther apart.

Age-friendly set ups and hospices are the need of the hour so that the elderly can have a dignified life. It requires creating living conditions and environments that support wellbeing and allow people to lead healthy and integrated lifestyles. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. Our country sadly still doesn’t pay attention to the needs of the geriatric population which is growing at a fast rate.

Now I’m no financial expert so I leave the aspect of financial planning to every individual. It’s the emotional aspect that interests me or rather troubles me. I don’t want to die lonely. I may not want to live with my child. I would want to live my life as I have always done, on my own terms and with dignity. So, what do I do? I make a list because that’s what I do when my mind gets disarrayed. Here’ what mine looked like;

  1. Create a nest and put enough eggs that last you through this life. (Mental note: Learn to understand that financial planner’s mumbo jumbo next time he springs something on me)
  2. Invest in health. (Lazybones stop making those excuses)
  3. Embrace your company. (Ah… at the rate I’m going in this country, by the time age catches up, I should have perfected this one)
  4. Explore hobbies. Brush the old ones and learn some new ones. (Let me see… that should be doable considering the time that I have on my hands with this sabbatical fallen into my lap)
  5. Look for community living options. Find one or look for like-minded people to float the concept to them so we may have a community of our own.

I’ll keep adding to it and make it more specific as I work on it. Now that I have shared mine, I’d be curious to know what’s in yours? Youth…err…actually middle age is here today but will be gone tomorrow. Let’s visualise ourselves in those shoes because soon enough we WILL BE in them.

Emily Dickinson has already forewarned me that Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.’

-Dr. Shivani Salil

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